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October 29th, 2013

Even the Industry Cannot Stand the Stench

By Tony Corbo

It is pretty rare when the editor of a major meat industry publication and Food & Water Watch can agree on an issue. But I am here to report that we have. After being away from the office for a week, I picked up my mail that had accumulated and started to go through it. Among the pieces in the pile was the October edition of MeatingPlace magazine, a publication that promotes the domestic meat industry. I find the publication useful since it helps me understand viewpoints from the meat industry. The articles are usually very well-written. What caught my attention this month, however, was a very critical editorial entitled, “Plague,” written by MeatingPlace editor Lisa Keefe. Read the full article…

When it Comes to Water Advocacy, Maude Barlow Sees a Blue Future

Maude Barlow is a lot of things to us here at Food & Water Watch: a human rights activist, leader in the movement to protect our water and crusader against corporate control of public resources. But she’s also a talented writer, and a friend and ally who continues to broaden the scope of our work and makes us proud to do what we do. In her brilliant new book, Blue Future, Barlow lays out an important vision for the next phase of our battle to protect our human right to have access to the most important common resource.

Blue Future—available now in Canada and in the U.S. by January 7, 2014*— identifies the principles behind our best approach to water management across the entire planet and, in the process, lays out the work ahead. Barlow organizes Blue Future into chapters that serve as the tenets of water advocacy for the next several years, and it’s based on the idea of communities coming together, empowering themselves, and establishing control of their own water supply.   Read the full article…

October 25th, 2013

GE Salmon Growing in the Dark in South Dakota

By Tim Schwab         

Working to Ensure Safe and Sustainable SeafoodLast week, the Washington Post reported some unwelcoming news to AquaBounty Technologies, the producers of genetically engineered (GE) salmon: grocery stores are lining up to sign a pledge saying they won’t sell the fish if, or when, it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

This action by some of the nation’s largest retailers, including Meijer, HEB, Target and Trader Joe’s, reflects widespread consumer opposition to GE salmon.  But where consumers see potential health concerns, environmental problems and a lot of hype surrounding the benefits of this fish, the state of South Dakota apparently sees dollar signs.

The Post reports the governor saying the state is making “concerted efforts” to bring AquaBounty to South Dakota, and it appears that South Dakota State University (SDSU), the largest public research institution in the state, is helping out.  

The school maintains very close ties to the biotech industry. SDSU President David Chicoine is also a director at Monsanto, which pays a handsome salary, and he owns around 10,000 shares in the company, worth around $1 million. The school’s vice-president and director of research, Kevin Kephart, is an advisor to the South Dakota Biotechnology Association, the state level affiliate of BIO, a biotech lobby group whose members include AquaBounty and which spent around $8 million in 2012 lobbying on issues, including GE salmon. Read the full article…

October 23rd, 2013

Highlights: The Second International Day to Ban Fracking

By Mark Schlosberg

Food & Water Watch staff in Brussels.

Across the world last weekend, communities rose up and came together to call for a ban on fracking in the second Global Frackdown. From France to Argentina, Australia to South Africa, India to Mexico and all across the United States, actions took place opposing fracking and related projects like frac sand mining, pipelines and other infrastructure projects. It was a beautiful and powerful day for the anti-fracking movement and shows our movement stronger and more unified than ever.

The largest rallies were in Europe, where 3500 people rallied in Montelimar, and 2500 people gathered in Saint-Claude to say no to fracking. France’s high court recently upheld the country’s ban on fracking, but organizers are concerned that experimentation is still possible. These were the two largest of several actions happening across France.

In eastern Romania, a thousand people demonstrated in Pungesti and 700 people took to the streets in Barlad to protest against Chevron’s attempts to explore and develop shale gas. Actions in solidarity with these local communities took place in the capital Bucharest. Resistance has been growing, since the government has failed to be transparent about the licenses that were given to Chevron in 2012.

Read the full article…

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October 17th, 2013

Standing in Solidarity with Canadian Activists During the Global Frackdown

By Mark Schlosberg

Activists around the globe are watching events unfold in New Brunswick, Canada today where a peaceful blockade led by the Elsipogtog First Nation, at the facility of SWN Resources Canada – a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Southwestern Energy – turned into a standoff with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP told Canadian media that protesters are being arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the court-ordered injunction. What is less visible in the media reports but what we’re hearing from activists on social media: that the peaceful blockade was met by overwhelming use of force by police who had canine units and reportedly used pepper spray and rubber bullets. 

We have still just heard bits and pieces of information and at this point it is still unclear exactly how this situation escalated today. However, given the large police presence, including snipers in camouflage, and a reported aggressive posture towards this action, it is sadly not surprising that it has gone the way it has. There are too many reports of peaceful protests escalating following police use of excessive force. We stand with other movement leaders and organizations like Josh Fox and Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians in solidarity with peaceful Canadian activists standing to protect their lands and water from fracking. Still, in the end, violence – whatever the cause – cannot be part of a solution and we second Josh Fox’s sentiments shared on Twitter in “Urging restraint against aggression. No matter what the police do we cannot respond with violence.”

Read the full article…

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Forty Shades of Green or a Handful of Greys?

By Ineke Scholte

Activist Ineke Scholte, Ireland

Activist Ineke Scholte, Ireland

In my home country of Ireland, known for its forty shades of green, a shadow is looming—reducing the vibrant greens to dull greys. As we seek to feed our rising hunger for energy, we risk watching familiar fields and pastures transform into lifeless, industrial gas pads.

Since “The Quiet Man” was shot in colour in Ireland in 1952, tourists have flocked to our country to marvel at its greenness. Bed and breakfasts opened all over the island to give these visitors a rich cultural experience and thousands of welcomes, feeding them local food from grassy pastures.

But Ireland will change beyond recognition if we do not free it from the shadow that is now being cast by the oil and gas industry. Ireland’s green pastures are being compromised. It’s up to us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be talked into fracking through the false promises of new jobs and a quick buck to alleviate our budget deficit.

Ireland has been lured into a property boom that is already turning much of the landscape to grey, leaving us financially devastated and vulnerable. The new lure of fracking will turn even more green into grey and will, like the property boom, eventually fade away as the gas reserves prove too limited to feed our endless greed for energy. It’s hard to imagine what Ireland will look like after the gas boom, but one lesson we have already learned: booms go bust and leave devastation. Read the full article…

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October 16th, 2013

The Global Frackdown: Building Bridges

By Matt Smith

Growing up in Bergen County, New Jersey, a short drive from the hustle of New York City, the Ramapo County Park was a godsend for me. An oasis amongst a vast desert of asphalt laden suburbia, it was in the park where I spent much of my childhood climbing mountain trails, fishing for river trout, and falling head over heels in love with the natural world around me. It’s a place that continues to ground me as an adult, offering consistency and clarity in an often chaotic world.

In 2011 when I first caught wind of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline company’s plan to tear through the park with a new interstate gas pipeline, I was shocked. I remember when the gas company representatives told a crowd of almost 100 local residents that the pipeline would be drilled directly underneath the Monksville Reservoir ‑ the drinking water source for millions of New Jersey families. My shock turned to anger when they told us the pipeline would tear right through the sacred lands of the indigenous Ramapough Lenape tribe, a community still living with the toxic legacy created by decades of illegal waste dumping by the Ford Motor Company.

It marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life when I learned that this pipeline is intended to expand the capacity for fracking in northeastern Pennsylvania, where communities like Dimock have already been plagued with contaminated drinking water from fracking. Read the full article…

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October 15th, 2013

The Time is Now

By Hollis Berendt

We moved to Greeley, Colorado in 1978. We thought we’d stay a few years and move back to Ohio where our parents lived, but we fell in love with the clean air, wide streets, dry climate and proximity to the mountains we loved to hike.  Greeley was a wonderful place to raise children, so we stayed.  We didn’t have to worry about the air our children breathed or the water they drank. But it is a different place now.  Our most basic needs are being fouled as Weld County is the most fracked county in the state.  Our city of Greeley could have over 500 wells in the near future if policies don’t change.  These wells are currently planned, or are already within close proximity to schools, parks, The Poudre River Trail and homes. In the 1990’s Greeley tried to fight oil and gas development. Unfortunately, in the case of  Voss vs. Lundvall, Greeley lost and gave up trying to defend its citizens from the perils of oil and gas development.

Super storms, fires, drought and agricultural disasters are occurring all over the world, and we have recently seen the dramatic effects of climate change right here in Weld County.  On Friday, September 13, northern Colorado suffered a “1000-year flood”.  Homes were washed away, rivers changed course ‑ perhaps permanently ‑ oil and gas tanks were toppled and subsequently dispensed their toxic soup into the waters.  People lost all of their dear possessions and others lost loved ones.  People with homes were unable to heat them, and some could not drink the water or flush their toilet.  Others were without power. Read the full article…

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Fracking with our Largest Source of Fresh Water

By Anne Zukowski

Ban Fracking!I’m from Michigan. I’m deeply connected with 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water supply that surrounds my state, and consider myself a steward of this essential resource.

My husband and I recently vacationed in Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.  We hiked through fantastically beautiful and rugged rock formations, saw herds of buffalo and antelope and watched soaring golden eagles.

We also saw first-hand how large-scale fracking devastates natural spaces, turning them into heavy industrial sites.  We saw fracking wells and facilities everywhere with barracks-like housing and trailer parks thrown up around them to accommodate out-of-state workers. Unending lines of tanker trucks carrying everything from heavy equipment to toxic fracking chemicals and waste whiz through small towns and down narrow two-lane roads. Noise and diesel fumes fill the air.

Fracking has come to Michigan and multinational corporations such as Encana, Inc. have found a bonanza here. Most of the fracking taking place in Michigan is occurring on public lands.  Twice a year the state government leases our state mineral rights to drillers for rock-bottom prices, averaging about $18 an acre.  Our Department of Environmental Quality allows them to take as much water as they want for free.  As an added bonus for them  (since most of the public lands are forested) fracking is out-of-sight to most people.  The resulting destruction of natural resources however, has proven devastating. Read the full article…

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October 11th, 2013

The Struggle Against Fracking: The View from Spain

By Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez 

It’s impressive to see how resistance to fracking has raced around the world like a spark travelling along a gunpowder trail. To me, this powerful struggle is in certain ways reminiscent of the global anti-nuclear movement of the 1970′s (in many ways, the forbearer of the modern-day ecological movement.) The sheer number of citizen groups, alliances and critical voices that have arisen to speak out against the practice of fracking continues to multiply. It is a struggle spearheaded by people, rather than organizations, many of whom have no background in organized activism, but who have been able to envision what is at stake – and have taken their opposition beyond NIMBYist objections, understanding that a change in our energy system is in order.

Read the full article…

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